Here relaxes star Wallace Reid, “the silent screen’s most perfect lover,” in a Stutz Bearcat. The racer was borrowed – with promotional considerations – out of Jim Parson’s Stutz showroom on Broadway Ave., which with Pike Street was Seattle’s “auto row” then. We learned the date of this subject, when we found a captioned second record of the sporty car and handsome ham posing together here on the sidewalk at the pointed western end of The Times Building at 4th and Olive Way. It appeared in The Times on July 20, 1919. Reid is described there as “a Stutz admirer and a lover of automobiles.”
For his “now” Jean Sherrard considered asking the driver of the Seafair stage coach heading south on Fourth Avenue to pull on to the sidewalk and pause there for a pose, but the moving pressures of this year’s torchlight parade convinced Jean to record his “repeat” from afar – across Fourth. It is also a prospect that shows more of the architectural splendor of the Beau Arts Times Building, which was home for this newspaper from 1916, when the flatiron structure was built, until 1930 when the paper moved north a few blocks to its present plant in the Cascade neighborhood.
Born in 1891 into a show business family – his dad was a playwright-actor – Wallace Reid was still in his teens when he appeared in his first film. Here in 1919 he began playing the racer-hero in a string of sports car dramas including the Roaring Road (1919), Double Speed (1920), Excuse my Dust (1920) and Too Much Speed. (1921). Roaring Road was released a few weeks before Reid and the borrowed Bearcat took this pose. In its promotional pulp, Reid is described as pursuing actress Dorothy Ward “with the same energy he applied to his other obsession in life, auto racing.” (For your invigoration Roaring Road – all of it! – can be watched on YouTube.)
Also in 1919 while doing his own stunt work for the production of The Valley of the Giants, in Southern Oregon, Reid was seriously injured. So that the filming could continue, the star was prescribed morphine for the pain. By the time of the film’s release on August 31, Reid had developed an addiction. While attempting recovery he died of pneumonia – and perhaps a failed heart as well – in a California sanitarium, on Jan. 18, 1923. He was 31 and left his wife, two children, and many films.
I have a few Seafair snaps I’ll drop in to provide extra spice.
Anything to add, Paul? Only a sample of nearby subjects, including more parading, beginning with a Potlatch Parade scene from 1911, taken from the same corner, with the Waverly Hotel still in place and the Times offices still at the northeast corner of Second and Union.
CLOSING WITH our featured flat-iron block in the 1890s looking northwest and thru it from the intersection of Olive and 5th Avenue. St. Marks Church has been rented to a printing company, which by now it seems has abandoned the place. The sign on the corner indicates that it is to be “Sold at Auction,” or perhaps it has been recently sold. Denny Hotel holds the summit of Denny Hill. (That is the lesser summit straddling 3rd Ave – if it was there – between Virginia and Pine Streets. This front/south summit was about five feet lower than the north or greater summit between Lenora and Blanchard and mid-block between 3rd and 4th Avenues.)
4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Fourth and Olive”
If Jean had taken the photo during the Pride Parade, he could have gotten one with the Wells Fargo coach facing north. I marched behind the coach during Pride. They cleaned up most, but not all, of the horse poop.
The next time you put on a shirt with an attached collar, think of Wallace Reid, the original Arrow Shirt Man. Before the Great War, standard business attire for men included detached, heavily starched shirt collars. Matinee idol Reid appeared in print ads for Arrow, wearing their innovative new style, and the detached collar quickly faded into history.
Reid starred in a number of popular road racing films such as The Roaring Road (1919), Excuse My Dust (1920) and others, so a photo in an open car is in perfect character. No doubt, Paramount carefully orchestrated every move of their valuable property.
Thank you for your website.
I just got pleasantly lost for about an hour in your fascinating site – again! I have all books in the Now and Then series, one signed! I just love my city and seeing all the archive photos and info really is a worthwhile thing to get cozy with. Thank you for your care over the years and teaching me so much about Seattle’s past.